Biologically Derived Soft Conducting Hydrogels Using Heparin-Doped Polymer Networks
American Chemical Society (ACS) -- ACS Nano
DOI 10.1021/nn406019m
  1. hydrogel
  2. polymer
  3. biomaterial
  4. electronically active


The emergence of flexible and stretchable electronic components expands the range of applications of electronic devices. Flexible devices are ideally suited for electronic biointerfaces because of mechanically permissive structures that conform to curvilinear structures found in native tissue. Most electronic materials used in these applications exhibit elastic moduli on the order of 0.1–1 MPa. However, many electronically excitable tissues exhibit elasticities in the range of 1–10 kPa, several orders of magnitude smaller than existing components used in flexible devices. This work describes the use of biologically derived heparins as scaffold materials for fabricating networks with hybrid electronic/ionic conductivity and ultracompliant mechanical properties. Photo-cross-linkable heparin–methacrylate hydrogels serve as templates to control the microstructure and doping of in situ polymerized polyaniline structures. Macroscopic heparin-doped polyaniline hydrogel dual networks exhibit impedances as low as Z = 4.17 Ω at 1 kHz and storage moduli of G′ = 900 ± 100 Pa. The conductivity of heparin/polyaniline networks depends on the oxidation state and microstructure of secondary polyaniline networks. Furthermore, heparin/polyaniline networks support the attachment, proliferation, and differentiation of murine myoblasts without any surface treatments. Taken together, these results suggest that heparin/polyaniline hydrogel networks exhibit suitable physical properties as an electronically active biointerface material that can match the mechanical properties of soft tissues composed of excitable cells.